Characteristics of the Amharic language in AX Semantics


In Amharic, you need to know the gender, case, and number of a noun to form the accompanying adjective, determiners, numerals, and pronouns correctly.

Amharic has two genders for nouns: masculine and feminine. There are two numbers: singular and plural. Additionally, Amharic has two cases for nouns: nominative, accusative.

grammatical namevaluesexamples
gendermasculineሀብታሙ ልጅ
[habitamu liji]
(the rich boy)
feminineሀብታሟ ሴት
[hābitamwa sēti]
(the rich lady)
numbersingularትልቅ ቤት
[tiliki bēti]
(big house)
pluralትላልቅ ቤቶች
[tilalik’i bētochi]
(big houses)
(the boy)
accusativeልጁን ያያል.
[lijuni yayali]
(He sees the boy.)
adjectives (noun)before nounቀይ ፖም
[k’eyi pomi]
(red apple)
verb tensespresentእሱ ይበላል
[isu yibelali]
(he eats)
pastእሱ በልቷል
[isu belitwali]
(he ate)

The standard order of a noun phrase in Amharic is the following:

preposition + determiner + numeral + adjective + noun

See for example:

ስለ      እነዚህ    ሦስት    ታዋቂ      መጽሐፍት
[sile   inezīhi  šositi  tawak’ī   mets’iḥāfiti]
about   these    three   popular   books
PREP    DET      NUM     ADJ       NOUN
"about these three popular books"



Amharic nouns inflect for case, gender, and number. Nouns should be added to the lexicon if they are not regular.

Lexicon entries for nouns may also be necessary for inflecting determiners, adjectives, numerals and pronouns correctly. They are omitted, if a lexicon entry is required, but missing.


The basic lexicon entry for ውሻ [wisha] (dog) contains:

  • gender: masculine
  • inflection table for case and number:
Nominativeውሻ [wisha]ሻዎች [wishawochi]
Accusativeውሻ [wishani]ሾችን [wishochini]


In Amharic, the default position for an adjective is "before noun". In the inflection table gender, case, and number can be encoded.

If there are adjectives modifying the noun, only the first adjective is marked for definiteness, while the other adjectives and nouns are not marked. See for example:

ውሻው [wishawi] (the dog) 
ቆንጆ ውሻ [k’onijo wisha] (beautiful dog)
ቆንጆው ውሻ [k’onijowi wisha] (the beautiful dog)
አሮጌው እና ቆንጆ ውሻ [ārogēwi ina k’onijo wisha] (the old and beautiful dog)


Amharic verbs inflect for gender, person, number, and tense. The most common verbs are encoded in our software. If a verb inflects the incorrectly, you should add it to the lexicon.

Container settings


The AX NLG platform supports the following determiners for Amharic: definite, demonstratives (distal + proximal) and possessives.

The definite article in Amharic is mostly expressed by a suffix on the noun. However, if adjectives or numerals exist in the phrase, the definite article is suffixed to the adjective instead of the noun. For example:

ውሻ [wisha] (dog)
ውሻው [wishawi] (the dog)
አሮጌው ውሻ [arogewi wisha] (the old dog)


The AX NLG platform supports the following pronouns for Amharic: personal, demonstratives (distal + proximal), reflexive and possessives.


Four types of numerals are possible on the AX NLG platform: cardinal, cardinal as digit, ordinal, and ordinal as digit. Take ቀን[k’eni] (day) for example:

textዘጠኝ ቀናት
[zet’enyi k’enati]
(nine days)
ዘጠነኛው ቀን
[zet’enenyawi k’eni]
(the ninth day)
digit9 ቀናት
[9 k’enati]
(9 days)
9 ቀን
[9 k’eni]
(the 9th day)

For Amharic, both cardinal and ordinal numerals are written out until 12 on the platform, otherwise (above 12) the output is in digit form. Take cardinal numerals for example:

አሥራ ሁለት ውሾች
[āšira huleti wishochi]
(twelve dogs)
13 ውሾች
[13 wishochi]
(13 dogs)


Prepositions and postpositions are both used in Amharic. For example, in the Amharic phrase "4 ቀናት ውስጥ[4 kenati wisiti]" (in 4 days) the postposition "ውስጥ[wisiti]" (in) stands after the noun.

On the NLG platform only prepositions can be directly set in Amharic containers, but postpositions can be put after the container as plain text.

Vowel harmony

The AX platform applies vowel harmonies automatically. Vowel harmony means that many inflection suffixes have different variants, that are used depending on what kind of vowels a word contains.

Take Amharic noun pluralization for example: ኦች[ochi] is added if the noun ends in a consonant, whereas ዎች[wochi] is added if the noun ends in a vowel.

ልጅ[liji] (child) + ኦች[ochi] -> ልጆች[lijochi] (children)
ውሻ[wisha] (dog) + ዎች[wochi] -> ውሻዎች[wishawochi] (dogs)